Marblehead resident Jennifer Armini, a speechwriter and co-founder of the grassroots political group ElectBlue, won the 8th Essex District primary, according to an unofficial tally.
Armini topped the ticket by a 308-vote margin, having captured 2,309 votes out of 8,361 or 27.61 percent. Swampscott resident Tristian Smith followed Armini with 2,001 votes, and then Swampscott resident Douglas Thompson with 1,555.
Armini received concessions and congratulations from Thompson, Marblehead resident Terri Tauro, and Swampscott resident Polly Titcomb. On election night, Armini said she spoke with Smith, the runner-up, but he did not immediately concede.
However, late Wednesday morning, Smith told Marblehead News that he had called Armini and offered a concession.
With no Republican on Tuesday’s ballot for the 8th Essex District, the Democratic victor is almost certain (barring a successful blitz write-in campaign) to be the successor to the former state Rep. Lori Ehrlich and will represent a district composed of Marblehead, Swampscott and a sliver of Lynn.
Ehrlich, of Marblehead, held the post for 14 years until she joined the Biden Administration as the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 1 administrator on Jan. 31. The Hatch Act prevented Ehrlich from endorsing in the contest, but she released a statement on Facebook Tuesday night, congratulating Armini.
“I have no doubt that you will serve the fine people of the 8th Essex with honesty and integrity,” she said. “There will be challenges ahead but if you do, you will find that representing this district is an honor that deepens over time.”
She added, “Treat the residents of Marblehead, Swampscott and Lynn with respect and value their opinions — even if you don’t agree — and you will come to cherish your intelligent, funny, and engaged constituents. And they will be there for you. With a large dose of sentimentality, I proudly pass the gavel to you.”
Armini has framed herself as “shovel ready” to take on a district with eclectic issues, from a dearth of affordable housing to a need to reinforce its coastline.
“I have deep legislative and public policy experience on both Capitol Hill and on Beacon Hill,” she said during the Marblehead Democratic Town Committee picnic. “I have spent the last years helping leaders translate complicated public policy into powerful speeches.”
Armini has crafted policies addressing parental accountability with regard to paying child support and LGBTQ rights in the workplace. She considers relationship-building a critical ingredient to forging success in politics.
“In this job, relationships matter, relationships in the community and with your colleagues on Beacon Hill. That’s how you identify challenges and opportunities,” she said. “I have spent nearly 17 years building relationships in this community.”
Asked why she thought her campaign resonated with voters, she said, “Building a grassroots campaign that spoke to the concerns, aspirations and spirit of the community.”
Armini is poised to extend Marblehead’s decades-long monopoly on the 8th Essex seat, following not only Ehrlich but her predecessor, Douglas W. Petersen; and his predecessor, Larry Alexander. Yet on Tuesday, more ballots were cast for the three Swampscott candidates, Smith, Thompson and Titcomb (4,484), than the three Marblehead residents, Armini, Tauro and Slavit-Baylis (3,821).
Armini dominated the vote total in her hometown (1,810), while Thompson was the most successful Swampscott resident in making inroads in Marblehead (719), outpacing Smith (540), who finished no better than fourth in any Marblehead precinct.